Skip to main content

Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

See other formats


ETYMOLOGY OP LOCAL KAMBS.
Is not unfrequently reduced to the form on$ In which not oae letter of Its
older self remains. The most Interesting example of this mutation is afforded
by the Tillage Parson. Its meaning has so thoroughly died out that a local
legend lias been in existence for some generations which explains it thus : that
two days after Krishna had slain one of the monsters with wliich the country was
infested, he was met at this spot by some of his adherents who asked Lim how
long ago it was that ho had done the deed, and lie replied parson, 'the day before
yesterday.' This is obviously as cibsncd as the kal kata, or c yesterday's cutting '
v                     «                                                      v                                                                     '             »                     J                       Q>
told about Oalcatta; for apart from other reasons the word In vogue in Krishna's
time would have been not parson^ but its original form parsvas. However, the
trae etymology, which is yet more disguised by the fact that office clerks always
change the r into I and call the place JPalsoxi, does not appear to have been ever
su££pstod til! now. Clearly the name was once Parasurama-giinw, or in its
contracted form Pnrsagamv, and thence by regular transition has passed through
Parsiimv into Parson. If proof were required, it Is supplied by the fact that a
large pond of ancient sacred repute immediately adjoining the village is called
Parasunim-kund.
The sacred ponds and groves with which the country of Braj abounds
are, as might naturally be expected, ordinarily much older than the villages
on their margin ; and, as Illustrated by the above .example, it is always of
the utmost importance to the philologist to ascertain their popular names.
These are much less liable to corruption than the name of any village ; for as
the tiratk Is visited solely on account of the divinity with whom It is tradition-
ally associated, Ms name is in It preserved intact, while as an element; in the
word that designates the village (a place most -connected in the mind with
secular matters) Its primary Import is less considered and in a few generations
may be totally forgotten. Thus the obscure name of a pond,* which can. only
be ascertained by a personal visit,- often reveals the name of the local deity or
it may be of the fomider of the settlement, and in that gives a surer clue to
the process of corruption in the village name than could ever be afforded by
any amount of library research. For example, the resolution of such a word
* Similarly in England it is the traditional names of the petty subdivisions of the Tillage
that arc general!/ of most interest to the philologist. To quote the wards of one of the most
charming topographical writers of the present day: ** Scores of the moat singular named
might be collected in every parish. It is the meadows and pasture® which usually bear these desig-
nations ; the ploughed lands are of ten only known by their acreage, as the tea-acre piece or the
twelve-acres. Some of them are undoubtedly the personal names of the former owners. But la
others ancient customs,, allusions to traditions, fragments of history or of languages aow extinct
may BUIYIYG'* ^Rmndakout a Great Estate*}